HONG KONG, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The "one country, two systems" principle is crucial to maintain prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, said Song Ru'an, deputy commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).
Following the principle, mechanisms to safeguard overseas fellow Hongkongers have improved, and Hong Kong has broadened its external ties, as can be proved by facts in the past two decades since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, Song said.
Over the past two decades, Hong Kong has successfully weathered through the 1997 Asian financial crisis to the international financial crisis in 2008, with its role strengthened as international financial, trade and shipping centers, said Song in an interview with Xinhua.
Over the past two decades, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong SAR has all along been fulfilling the "one country, two systems" principle in its work, Song said.
Soon after Hong Kong returned to the motherland on July 1, 1997, the commissioner's office was established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in accordance with the Basic Law. The commissioner's office is responsible for handling foreign affairs concerning the Hong Kong SAR.
In the past two decades, the commissioner's office has been improving mechanisms to safeguard overseas fellow countrymen from Hong Kong.
Whenever they are facing dangers or in difficulties, the country will lose no time to support them, Song said.
It has been well proved in a series of emergencies, such as the 2013 hot air balloon crash in Egypt, the evacuation of Chinese in Libya, the responses to the Manila hostage crisis and the earthquake in Nepal, he said.
The central government has dealt with 12,000 cases related to consular protection of Hong Kong people including about 800 cases in 2016.
Over the past 20 years, Hong Kong has been improving its external ties, and international cooperation on finance and trade.
First, with the aid and support of the central government, the Hong Kong SAR passports are more "valuable," as the holders can travel visa-free or visa on arrival to more than 150 countries and regions, Song said.
Second, Hong Kong is more active in international activities and the central government has successfully supported Hong Kong in expanding external exchanges and cooperation, Song said, adding that Hong Kong has attended about 1,600 international conferences as a member of the Chinese government delegation.
Efforts have been made to keep Hong Kong's position as a world financial, trade and shipping center, and other efforts have been made to support Hong Kong in building itself into an international exhibition center, and regional legal service and dispute resolution center, Song noted.